OMFG we’ve got gun trainer dramas on the internets! A kind tip o’the hat to Tam the Ma’am, who alerted us to a Chernobyl scale meltdown at m4carbine.net. As best as I can figure out, industry insider and general fount of clue DocGKR posted a detailed and thoughtful review of a Ken Hackathorn advanced pistol class. Out of nowhere, various forum mods accused DocGKR of writing a negative review and having a “secret agenda”, and generally not hugging the LAV’s nuts tightly enough. This culminated with Larry Vickers himself ominously and weirdly declaring that he “had his number” and should consider himself “warned”. The course review and thread was deleted, some people were banned, some other people voluntarily abandoned m4c, it’s been nuts.
You can read the summary threads at arfcom and doodie and doodie again to get the rundown yourself, and please tell me if I got the salient facts incorrect. Do be prepared to spend more than a couple hours peeling down the onion of butthurt. It seems that every drama was preceded by other drama.
This is of course hilariously absurd and unprofessional, but are there any lessons we can glean from this mess? I think so!
- The open-enrollment firearms training industry continues to be an unruly mess. With no accreditation or even consistent standards, a gullible customer base that seems to value military credentials and war stories higher than actual instructional ability, and a profitability arms race that seeks to cram as many paying butts into the classes as possible, I genuinely worry about the future viability of professional firearms training. It’ll only take a few more mishaps and fatalities to cause either legislation or liability burden to shut the party down.
- Kill your heroes. While there’s no denying Larry Vickers’ technical knowledge, industry accomplishments, and skill as a trainer, his puzzling behavior in this episode betrays a strange and small insecurity that doesn’t reflect well on him as a human being. But there’s no reason why a teacher has to be a flawless role model in order to impart knowledge, as long as their students are capable of applying their critical filter and do not fall into the trap of putting their guru on a pedestal to be worshiped.
- The expert forum concept is probably fatally flawed. M4carbine.net was a fairly ambitious effort to put more clue and legitimacy into the firearms forum sphere, but the effort to squeeze out the derp in favor of anointed experts only ended up mired in politics, sales floor antics, and corruption. As Tam pointed out that Ken at Popehat had pointed out, once you outsource your PR, you’ve outsourced your ethics as well.
I am probably done with m4c and will strike it from my forums list eventually. I will miss the technical and picture threads especially, but as more of the clued evacuate to friendlier forums, hopefully I can find substitutes. At least until the next time the llama gets saddled up and ridden around the yard.